Best Denver Food and Drink Things to Do This Week | Westword

The Seven Best Events on the Culinary Calendar This Week

Barbecue, burritos and bold vegan bites are just part of this week's tasty action.
These big, bad, bold burritos are taking over at Pony Up on Monday and Tuesday.
These big, bad, bold burritos are taking over at Pony Up on Monday and Tuesday. Courtesy of Pony Up
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Whether you're craving homey favorites like barbecue and burritos, fresh and summery peaches from Palisade, or an elevated wine dinner that just might make you feel like you traveled back in time to...last year, you'll find what you're looking for in Denver this week.

Check out these seven food and drink events over the next few days, then keep reading for future culinary happenings.

Monday, August 17
Denver's premier purveyor of French dip sandwiches, Pony Up, at 1808 Blake Street, is branching out with another crowd favorite: the Mission-style burrito. The difference between the Gallic sandwich and the San Francisco wrap isn't as great as you might think; essentially, both are layers of pillowy carbs surrounding oversized piles of savory meat. In the case of the burrito, though, you have the option of shrimp, carnitas, beef birria or smoked ribeye instead of the usual French dip fillings (not that there's anything "usual" about this joint's creative sandwiches). And you California transplants will be able to get your state's namesake burrito — not a whole wheat tortilla with sprouts and avocados, but a monster stuffed with fries and carne asada. Service starts at 4 p.m. on Monday, August 17, and Tuesday, August 18; the bar will also debut patio seating on Monday. Details and other menu items (including the intriguing and enticing quesadilla suiza) are up on the joint's Facebook page, and takeout customers can pre-order on Pony Up's online store now.

Tuesday, August 18
Highland mainstay Parisi, at 4401 Tennyson Street, is making the best of a weird situation by emulating Italy's sagra — village food festivals that highlight a local speciality — under the tent set up in the restaurant's parking lot to allow outdoor seating. Every week, the eatery offers a prix fixe, three-course sagra menu for one ($30), two ($60) or four ($98) diners. This week's ingredient? Juicy Palisade peaches. Choose from peach and goat cheese salad with champagne vinaigrette; prosecco and peach risotto; or pork seared with red onions, peaches, rosemary and sage. Don't want the whole meal? You can order the dishes à la carte or for takeout; visit Parisi's website for details.

Rioja's August 19 Spanish wine dinner is the next best thing to that vacation you had planned this summer.
Danielle Lirette
Wednesday, August 19
Dinner at Rioja is never a consolation prize — unless, that is, you were actually planning to travel to the European Union this summer. The downtown restaurant at 1431 Larimer Street can't do anything to change the cataclysmic failure in national leadership and public health that's closed most of the world's borders to U.S. citizens, but it can serve up a stunning dinner paired with wines from northern Spain. On Wednesday, August 19, at 6:30 p.m., Rioja will pour fives wines from the regions surrounding the famed Camino de Santiago (a pilgrimage route that stretches across the country and ends in Galicia). Courses include cured salmon with Basque chile vinaigrette, grilled quail stuffed with tarragon sausage, and seared duck breast with rosewater, plum compote and farro croquettes. Seats for the in-house feast, $99 each, can be reserved on Tock. And even if traveling as far as the inside of a restaurant dining room gives you the willies, you don't have to miss out: You can opt for the virtual dinner for $70, which includes the same five courses plus finishing instructions for takeout. You can also opt for one (or all five!) of the wine pairings, which come by the bottle and start at just $19. Take a look at Tock for the full menu and a sneak peek at the dates for future wine dinners and highlighted regions.

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Bacon Social House is serving up other parts of the pig on Thursday.
Courtesy of Bacon Social House
Thursday, August 20
It's not the easiest thing in the world to be a restaurant-going vegan — and that was true even back in 2019. In 2020, it's been even harder for plant-based eaters to get their grub on at Denver eateries, since...well, you know the drill. But Charcoal Bistro, 1028 South Gaylord Street, has reopened, and on Thursday, August 20, the restaurant is resuming it's vegan dinner series. The meal is a throwback to pre-pandemic times; as always, diners get four courses for just $39, and this week's menu has a Southern accent, with artichoke and chickpea crab cakes, smoked tofu with dirty rice, and hummingbird cake (banana-pineapple spice cake that's common in the South). Reservations are required (service runs from 4 to 8 p.m.) and can be made on Charcoal's website, where you can also see the evening's complete menu.

On Thursday, August 20, Bacon Social House switches out the bacon for barbecue. The pork purveyor at 2434 West 44th Avenue will be open for a rare early-dinner service; for $20, you can snag a plate of smoked ribs, pulled pork, bacon potato salad, coleslaw and jalapeño-cheddar cornbread. Plates will be served to-go from 4 to 6 p.m., but the cute courtyard will be open for first-come, first-served seating, with Bacon's bar open and mixing. Reserve your spread on Resy.

Anyone who's ever tried putting together a charcuterie plate with subpar ingredients knows it's harder to build a good-looking spread with Hormel pepperoni and Kraft singles than you might think. If you want to craft a meat and cheese platter that's Insta-worthy (not to mention tasty), you have to start with the good stuff — and some tips from a pro don't hurt, either. On Thursday, August 20, you can get both in one fell swoop, thanks to Niman Ranch and chef Kelly Whitaker of the Wolf's Tailor and Basta. From 6 to 7 p.m., Whitaker will host a live Zoom demo where he'll put together a party plate to make guests swoon. Purchase a kit — $50 if you pick it up at Bruto, at 1801 Blake Street; $75 if you have it shipped to your doorstep — and you'll receive access to the meeting. Kits include six ounces each of sopressata, salami, prosciutto, pepperoni and capicolla, plus one summer sausage, honey and a trio of cheeses — two cheddars and a quark — from Milton Creamery. Order deadlines are 4 p.m. on Monday, August 17 (if you want it delivered), or Wednesday, August 19 (for pickup). Visit Niman Ranch's website for more details on the event and on the Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation, the beneficiary of its proceeds.

Friday, August 21
If you know about the Hollywood handshake and the dreaded soggy bottom, then you'll want to sign up for a baking-themed trivia night from Geeks Who Drink on Friday, August 21. Knowing the basics of the Great British Baking Show doesn't mean you'll win, though. You'll want to know the main players in Bingate, who turned out the orange-glazed guglhupf in series five, what was behind Mary Berry's departure from the show, and what a "traybake" actually is. There are two start times for the virtual Zoom quiz, at 6 and 7 p.m., and teams of up to six people can enter at a cost of $6 per device. Find out more on the Geeks Who Drink Facebook page and get ready, set...baaaaaake!

Keep reading for future food and drink happenings....

In previous years, Coohills has packed the railway bridge over Cherry Creek with music fans, but this year patio tables will be spread out for dinner guests.
Saturday, August 22
Chef Tom Coohill's namesake restaurant at 1400 Wewatta Street is perfectly positioned to take advantage of outdoor dining; its proximity to the bridge spanning the South Platte River has made it a popular destination for Beats on the Creek in previous years. While the 2020 concert series was canceled, diners can still sit under the stars on Saturday, August 22, at an al fresco wine dinner with seating set up on the bridge. Guests at the five-course dinner can expect a selection of six wines from around the globe poured alongside courses like lobster salad with duck breast and citrus-truffle emulsion; roasted guinea hen with porcini mousse, black mission figs and port reduction; and harissa-spiced lamb loin with dates and braised heirloom potatoes. Call 303-623-5700 or email [email protected] to reserve your spot for the 7 p.m. meal, which will run you $115.

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Spuntino chef/co-owner Cindhura Reddy (left) and chef Austin Nickel (center) will be taking on Misfit Snackbar's Bo Porytko for taco supremacy on Tuesday, August 25.
Linnea Covington
Tuesday, August 25
Last July, Italian restaurant Spuntino teamed up with Bo Porytko (formerly of Rebel Restaurant, currently of Misfit Snackbar) for a Yucatán-inspired dinner that transported diners to a Mexican beach. On Tuesday, August 25, the pair is reviving that meal for a much-needed respite from life in the U.S. of A. Technically, you can still hop on a plane and disembark south of the border, but do you really want to take that chance? The next best option is a four-course meal under Spuntino's comfortable and spacious outdoor tent at 2639 West 32nd Avenue. The current menu includes grasshopper elotes with mint crema and and spicy chapulines; suckling pig roulade in arbol chile adobo with chicharrones, chorizo and cashews; and a plate of dueling tacos, with Porytko and Spuntino's chefs, Cindhura Reddy and Austin Nickel — both James Beard Award nominees this year — each turning out a heretofore unknown taco in the interest of friendly competition. Spaces for the 8:30 p.m. seating are still available for $90 per person on Spuntino's website.

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Save the date for seltzer on the green.
Courtesy of Seltzerland
Saturday, September 19
As event producers cautiously dip their toes back into the murky waters of large-scale gatherings, they're forced to be creative about how to ensure that safety, social distancing and summer fun are all on tap in a single afternoon. Seltzerland, a traveling hard-seltzer fest that's landing in Denver on Saturday, September 19, is taking an approach as intriguing as any: Vendors and guests will tee off on Erie's Colorado National Golf Club, 2700 Vista Parkway, for nine holes of drinks. Leave your clubs at home (long metal sticks are generally frowned upon at any gathering where booze is the main attraction) for your walk along the fairway with a cohort of up to fourteen other attendees. Entry is timed in ten-minute intervals, and social distancing is required between groups as well as between vendors. While we're not sure how you'll get your seltzer samples if you're maintaining six feet from the seltzertender (is that the right word?), you're promised more than fifty different beverages and ninety minutes of fresh air and drinking with friends. Tickets are $29 for general admission, which runs from 1 to 4:30 p.m. (participants are given an entry time in ten-minute increments during that window), or $65 for VIP, which goes from 11 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. and includes one cocktail, a full can of seltzer, free parking and bites in addition to samples. Visit the event website for details and to purchase tickets.

Know of an event or activity that belongs here? Send information to [email protected].
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